HOME |    

The World Cares™


+ Royal Efforts to Eradicate the Opium Trade
+ The Empowered Patient
+ A New Global Consciousness
+ The Feminine Embrace | International Forum 2008 in Baku, Azerbaijan
+ Flavor from Thailand: Singha Beer made with a German Touch
+ Israel-Christian Nexus - 60th Anniversary Celebration of Israel at the Great Western Forum
+ King of Opera - 40th Anniversary Bash for Maestro Placido Domingo at the Los Angeles Opera
+ Music | From Coast To Coast
+ Business Forum and Independence Day Celebration Of Azerbaijan at the Regency Club
+ Discover my home town, discover Munich!
+ Remembering the Past to Bring About a Better Future
+ Art and Opera in & around Los Angeles
+ Azerbaijan’s Independence Day Celebrated In Los Angeles
+ Interview with Helma Christiane Bloomberg :: German-American Philanthropist for 30 Years
+ Richard Wagner’s ‘Ring’ in Orange County
+ "America's Birth Certificate"
+ International Night Benefit Ball
+ The Los Angeles Consular Corps
+ Rocking with Rachmaninoff
+ City of Hope - A Holiday Bash To Remember For A Worthy Cause
+ News from New York: The Metropolitan Opera
+ Romance, Music and Cultural Understanding | Recognizing No Boundaries at Home and Abroad
+ Maximilian Schell, Academy Award-Winner to Direct LA Opera’s New Production of “Der Rosenkavalier”
+ International Benefit Ball - “Truly Asia”
+ Opera! - Parsival
+ Farewell to Consul General Hunkeler and Mrs. Katharina Hunkeler
+ Malaysia Honored by the Int. Committee of the LA Philharmonic Association
+ Celebrating Yvonne Jurman
+ Salute to Classical Music
+ Not to be missed: Max Raabe and his "Palast Orchester" back at Royce Hall
+ Metropolitan Opera National Council Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Regional Auditions Program
+ A Passion for Los Angeles Opera
+ Walt Disney Concert Hall
+ MANZANAR - A Celebration of Liberty
+ Helma Christiane Bloomberg: Founder of the Cultural Ambassador’s Club
+ Los Angeles Opera - "Pioneers of the Future"
+ A Celebration of Liberty
+ A Galaxy of Stars at Los Angeles Opera
+ Beverly Hills Is Alive With the Sound of Music
+ The International Committee in Support of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
+ Young Composers Showcase at the Colburn School of the Performing Arts

Sunrise at Amari Angkhang Nature Resort Monks at Sunrise Gathering at Angkhang Hall of Opium, Golden Triangle Park

Royal Efforts to Eradicate the Opium Trade
At the invitation of the Foreign Ministry, Beverly Hills's & Westside Resident,
Helma Christiane Bloomberg, traveled to Thailand to discover

     “The Marvel of the Royal Projects.”

     After 63 years in power, and due to his tireless efforts, the world’s longest-reigning monarch is widely considered a success. King Bhumibol Adulyadej has just celebrated his 82nd birthday and, to anyone fortunate enough to visit the majesty of Thailand, genuine love and reverence for its Father of the Land quickly becomes clear.

     Over 40 years ago, His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, initiated the fight against opium cultivation in Thailand, using a crop substitution approach. Poverty and lack of opportunity were the main causes of opium poppy cultivation and it has been since as early as 3400 B.C. that the opium trade was a major part of the economy and society in Thailand. For a long period of time, opium was used as the primary currency of the Golden Triangle region of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Due to low literacy rates and over millennia of abuse, the sinister effects of this drug were felt worldwide, causing a wide variety of criminal lifestyles as well as personal and economic devastation as chronicled in the Hall of Opium Museum in the Golden Triangle Park. While in Northern Thailand, visiting the Hall of Opium is an absolute essential stop for anyone people-centrically involved. Although opium provides many benefits, it also causes tremendous and tear-full suffering. However, now, through decades of indefatigable efforts by his Majesty the King, this devastation has been reversed.

     The week-long journey to Northern Thailand and Ayutthaya illuminated and made clear the role and relevancy of the Thai Monarchy through visiting a number of Royal Development Projects, which have now become tourist attractions themselves. The journey unveiled how His Majesty the King and the Royal Family’s vision has materialized into a wide range of royal projects, which now shape a sustainable future for the rural people, who are living in the remotest areas. Over the years, these projects directly changed the lives of the hill tribes by providing opportunities for all, regardless of their ancestral heritage or religion.

     Initially, the success of the agricultural transitions was obscured by price-gouging middlemen and, the Thai people who were intended to benefit, were still hungry and impoverished. In response, the King founded The First Royal Factory at Fang District. From preparing raw materials, sterilizing to steaming, the factory is equipped with a complete food processing system. A cooperative group was organized simultaneously to buy fresh produce directly from the hill tribe people. This helped eliminate the problem of unreasonable prices of the middleman in addition to encouraging and educating the hill tribe people to grow vegetables in substitution of opium growing. Since inception, several more Royal Factories have been started, duplicating the format and success of the original. By providing extra income to the farmers and supplying raw materials to the factory to optimize production, these projects introduced an agro-industry as a means of rural development.

First Royal Factory Product Display

Royal Angkhang Agricultural Station Project

     The Royal Angkhang Agricultural Station Project is yet another development which was founded by his Majesty King Bhumibol in 1969. At this time, His Majesty the King took a helicopter trip to visit various hill tribe villages in Chiang Mai and found that most villagers were growing opium poppies for their living. The King had learned of Doi Angkhang while traveling nearby. The area was not always such an attractive place to live. In 1960, it was remote, isolated, had no access roads and was off limits to outsiders. Its occupants – refugees from Yunnan in China, the Humong, Yao and Black Musers and many of the tribal groups – adopted “slash-and burn” techniques of clearing land for their planting. This destroyed an inordinate amount of natural resources. Growing opium, peaches and rice, the locals still lived in poverty without proper access to education or medical treatment. To solve the problem, his Majesty intervened and donated his personal funds to buy plots of land from hill tribe villagers and established the first Royal Research Station, the Angkhang Royal Agricultural Station. The name “Angkhang” is derived from the northern dialect, meaning a rectangular basin. Primarily a Research Station for temperate fruit, vegetables, trees and flowers, it also focuses on developing a wider variety of marketable produce for the local hill tribes as well as providing schooling for children and boasting a small medical center which keeps everyone healthy. Today, the Royal Agricultural Station Angkhang is the Flagship for the Royal Projects. It tests new strains of fruit and cultivates fruit saplings. The Research Project covers an area of 37.5 square kilometers and has had great success in developing non-indigenous crops. We were informed that several foreign governments offered help by contributing equipment, seeds, and technical know-how to this research station.

     Developed as part of the Royal Angkhang Research Station, under the Royal Project Foundation, the Amari Angkhang Nature Resort is situated a scenic three-hour drive from Chiang Mai. Its invigorating mountain air, the fresh cool climate, the breathtaking scenery and the quiet of the countryside all make for a rejuvenating break from the city and offer quiet enchantment for the world traveler. Here, something can be enjoyed by everyone. The helpful staff can set you up to go trekking, bird watching, mountain-biking, mule riding or, you can simply take it easy and take pleasure in the contemplation of Doi Angkhang. The indefatigable and always-in-excellent-spirit staff of our expedition accommodated my special request to participate in the local ritual of celebrating the rising sun, an extraordinary experience indeed. Due to the appeal of a multitude of activities, along with the exceptional hospitality offered at this resort, the Royal Angkhang Agricultural Station project has become independently sustainable.

Mae Fah Luang Art & Culture Park

     Not only has the Royal Family taken a keen interest in educating the hills tribe people and moving them toward a sustainable future, but they also help to preserve its country’s wealth of historic art and culture. In order to help save ancient art from dissemination worldwide and educate northern Thai people about their own cultural heritage, the King’s mother, Her Royal Highness Princess Sri Nakarindhara, established several non-profit institutions, including the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park, which we visited. The Park showcases the finest collection of religious and secular art and artifacts found in Thailand, dating back to the Lanna period, around 1600 A.D. Unlike a museum, the park’s Golden Pavilion encapsulates the very essence of Lanna ritual. The art is displayed within its context and provisions having been made for those who wish to offer their respect. The Park is also a botanical garden and home to children from disadvantaged homes pursuing academic excellence.

     After founding the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park, Princess Sri Nakarindhara then founded the Doi Tung Development Project, to raise the quality of life of Thailand’s ethnic minorities in the Doi Tung area which is located along the border with Myanmar in the heart of the “Golden Triangle” –once infamous worldwide as a leading region of illicit opium production. This project funds reforestation, training centers that build the skills and talents of locals, and avenues to start up small businesses in everything from landscape design to coffee roasting. The once barren hills of Doi Tung too had been subjected to “slash and burn” agriculture, opium cultivation and, worse yet, to trafficking of humans and arms for many years. People lived in abject poverty and were in constant “survival trauma.” There was no infrastructure or government support until 1987 when the late Princess Mother, who had learned from her son’s different projects and who shared his people-centric principles, initiated the Doi Tung Development Center and demonstrated her commitment even further, when she built the royal palace, which was once her residence in the Doi Tung Development Area. It was her way to keep in close connection with the project and with the people she so determinedly and tenderly served to benefit.

     The Development covers approximately 150 square kilometers, there are 29 villages and approximately 11,000 people from six ethnic minority groups participating. The Doi Tung Development Project in the Chiang Rai province marvelously transformed a once barren land into fields of opportunities by planting coffee, macadamia nuts, fruits, vegetables and flowers. Reforestation is so successful that, even in midsummer, the hills are cool from the shade of the tall trees. Education, agriculture, handicrafts, culture preservation and ecotourism have created jobs and income for the local people and their families.

     The Foundation’s methodology to success has been to use sequenced interventions. The short-term phase starts by immediately providing local communities with legal sources of income to bridge the gap. This promotes confidence and builds trust. Fast-growing cash crops were promoted before medium- and long-term programs were initiated to bear revenue. After the initial phase, the foundation focused on developing viable market-driven livelihood alternatives. This moved the economic activity up the value chain. The long-term goal is to empower the people to become self-reliant and able to cope with global market forces while, at the same time, protecting their cultural values and respect for their environment. A drug-free and civil society are encouraged and supported.

     With more than one million visitors a year, Doi Tung has now become a prime tourist attraction, rejuvenated with lush and colorful flower blossoms. The Development has been financially self-sustaining since 2001 and the Project area is now opium-free.

     Since 2002, the Foundation has contributed to those countries and communities who requested assistance. The Foundation undertook a project in Myanmar which ended in 2004 and, since then, has on-going projects in Indonesia and Afghanistan where the Royal Family helps their neighbors and friends accomplish big goals.

     In 1976, the Royal Patronage established the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Center and Village, offering training in folk arts and crafts for underprivileged people in former opium-driven regions such as rural farmers, prison inmates and former prostitutes. The community has grown along with its success, now covering over 14 acres of land. All materials used in the crafts are local and easily obtainable. All handicrafts produced are sold to tourists and the money goes to the workers themselves. The center doubles as a tourist attraction, displaying a large bird sanctuary which is home to many rare breeds and offering up-close encounters. The grounds themselves are stunning and maintained by members of the center who have been trained in gardening.

     His Majesty the King’s unfaltering efforts have been acknowledged internationally, earning him numerous prestigious international awards for his life-long work. Among others, in 2006, the United Nations honored His Majesty with the first United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award 2006 for “his extraordinary contribution to human development.” In January of 2009, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) presented His Majesty the first WIPO Global Leader Award in recognition of “his remarkable contributions to intellectual property, both as an inventor and an active proponent of intellectual property as a tool for development.”

     Ever since the King was crowned in 1946, the Royal Family has been steadfast in their quest for re-development of the once opium-ravaged society. Through many years of dedication and compassion for the Thai people, the King and his Royal Projects have directly changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at home while, at the same time, they continue to inspire millions more on the global platform.

His Majesty King Bhumibol,
Displayed in Hall of Opium Museum
Inscription at the Hall of Opium Her Royal Highness the late Princess Mother,
Displayed in Hall of Opium Museum

     Visiting the royal projects and witnessing their uplifting effects on the living conditions of the Thai people, one clearly understands the Thai public’s genuine outpouring of affection for their great King and his achievements for his country and its people. Inspirational indeed!

     As always, it remains an honor and a pleasure to share valuable information with you.

Until next time then...

Helma-Christiane Bloomberg
International Diplomatic Liaison
Building Community via Cross-Cultural Dialogue

As inspired at the International Forum
Expanding the Role of Women in Cross-Cultural Dialogue
2008 Baku Forum Azerbaijan

Marvel of the Royal Projects Directory

Hall of Opium, Golden Triangle Park
Location: Moo 1 Ban Sop Ruak, Tambon Wiang,
Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai 57150
Tel. +66 5378 4444-6
Fax. +66 5365 2133
Email: hallofopium@doitung.org

First Royal Factory at Fang: The Museum
Location: 72 Moo 12Ban Yang, Tambon Mae Ngon,
Fang, Chiang Mai 50320
Tel. +66 2687 3790
Fax. +66 2687 3790
Email: info@firstroyalfactory.org

Ang Khang Agricultural Royal Project Station
Location: 1 Moo 5, Tambon Mae Ngon,
Fang, Chiang Mai 50320
Tel. +66 5345 0107-9
Fax. +66 5345 0106

Amari Angkhang Nature Resort at the Royal Project Station
Location: 1 Moo 5 Baan Koom, Tumbon Mae Ngon,
Amphur Fang, Chiang Mai 50320
Tel. +66 5345 0110
Fax. +66 5345 0120
Email: angkhang@amari.com

Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park
Location: 313 Moo 7 Baan Pa Ngiew, Tambon Robwiang,
Muang, Chiang Rai 57000
Tel. +66 5371 1968
Fax. +66 5371 2429
Email: rmfl@doitung.org

Doi Tung Development Project
Location: Multipurpose Building, Doi Tung Villa,
Mae Fah Luang, Chiang Rai 57240
Tel. +66 5376 7015-7
Fax. +66 5376 7018
Email: tourism@doitung.org

Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Center and Village
Location: 59 Moo 4, Tambon Changyai,
Bang Sai, Ayutthaya 13290
Tel. +66 3536 6252-4
Fax. +66 3536 6092

Bloomberg Publications January 2010

Dear Reader:

Amazing Thailand indeed, captivating and dazzling, it seduces visitors with its culture, gorgeous landscape and magnificent vibrancy. Thailand, a Kingdom which has long been a destination for the health conscious, and a country which harnesses the best of East and West.

It was at the recommendation of a dear friend, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, that I traveled to Thailand for a much needed vacation, to celebrate one of my daughter’s “milestone birthdays” while at the same time receiving exceptional dental care and literally, all at a much reduced rate.

Most American consumers compare quality of service and price of goods on a daily basis and now everyone has the ability to be as diligent to comparison shop for their health care needs via the Internet –and or, like myself, follow a good friend’s advice.

The “jaw dropping” cost of Los Angeles’ west side dental care, ($5.000.00 for a single dental implant & crown,) should send shock waves to any cost conscious, savvy and comparative value shopper, prompting them to search for alternate and more attractive solutions. After some comparison shopping in Beverly Hills and the Santa Monica area, I came by the informa-tion to consider Thailand as a top solution to my dental needs during a casual conversation at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills while having lunch with my good friend, who fre-quently travels to Thailand on business and who informed me that he visits the Bangkok Inter-national Dental Center for all his dental needs. The clinic is staffed by both Western and highly trained Thai specialists accredited in Thailand and also internationally.

The dental group of over 60 specialists treats anything from general dentistry to veneers, den-tal implants, dental crowns and bridges, root-canal treatments, laser tooth whitening and or-thodontic problems. The center specializes in full mouth reconstruction and cosmetic dentistry using the most advanced implant materials, abutments and crown materials,. It is a state of the art facility which is governed by strict quality control standards that meet and often exceed Western dental facility standards. Their 7 story dental building boasts its own high powered suction system, following all international sterilization regulations.

The Bangkok International Dental Center www.BangkokDental.com is equipped with the most modern technologies. It utilizes the latest diagnostic tools such as digital x-rays, endodontic microscopes and laser systems. This, along with the meticulous care of the dentists and their staff, assures the safety of their patients in addition to assuring precision treatment as men-tioned on their website. The BIDC is a “One Stop Dental Care” facility where the care is not frag-mented among different providers and specialties, but all dental needs are addressed under one roof, therefore saving both time and money. By design, the Bangkok International Dental Center is not only efficient, but also well equipped to treat even the most complex dental problems.

Arriving in Bangkok, the Emerald Hotel had arranged for a car and driver to pick me up at the airport. I had booked a room at their corporate rates on the 28th floor with a fabulous view over the city. After settling in and getting a good night’s sleep, the following morning, I took a 2 min-ute walk to the dental center (BIDC,) to familiarize myself with the facility and clientele before treatment commenced. Settling in two days before the appointment, I had allowed myself to get over any possible jet lag and to be well rested before treatment. The business class flight on Japan Airlines, an affiliate of American Airlines, was superb. The service friendly, the food artisti-cally presented and the seats comfortable. The Bangkok International Dental Center was as ad-vertised, hygienic and hi-tech. Admittance records were in perfect order and the staff as men-tioned, as warm and caring as they were efficient. I felt comfortable and re-assured… all there was left to do now was to meet the specialists themselves.

The next day, in the waiting room, arriving a few minutes early I struck up a conversation with a young patient from Scandinavia. During the course of our chat he told me that his whole family periodically flies to Thailand to visit the Bangkok International Dental Center for their more prominent dental needs. While waiting to be seen by the consultant, this added to the re-assurance my friend had given about the super care he receives at the center, in addition to validating my independent research on the clinic and communicating with the Center’s corre-spondent Steph. She had handled all arrangements and efficiently answered all questions via e-mail consultation prior to departure. Treatment time and costs were spelled out in advance and were based on hometown exams, x-rays and evaluations. Everything was inclusive and not additional cost was incurred from the original estimate. In the morning I met with the Clinic’s senior consultant, Dr. Wilaiwan Panyavorachart, She took a detailed and meticulous medical history, asked pertinent questions regarding current health issues and patiently explained pro-cedures and treatment times. Following the initial consultation, in the afternoon, I was set up with three additional appointments to meet with specialists for additional check-ups and also a simple root-canal treatment.

The Implantologist, Dr. Amornpong Vachiramon, who received his training in the UK and at the USC Dental School in Los Angeles in addition to being a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologist was meticulous in his care and the following day did a great job with the implants. Dr. Krissana’s tender care in respect to my root canal treatment was a walk in the park and Dr. Vichulada who takes care of veneers and crowns could not have been more conscien-tious. Her work, advise and care was simply extraordinary. With so many outstanding dentists on staff, I felt taken care of every step of the way. To round of an absolutely positive experience, the office staff at BIDC’s could not have been more efficient, accommodating and friendly. My gratitude goes to all girls, but especially to Steph who helped with the initial arrangements and of course to Pat who would call to confirm all appointments and had been assigned to look after me with special care. She was both charming and professional.

During treatment time my daughter Stephanie and I took some time off exploring Bangkok with its many ornate temples, unique treasures and cultural attractions. We took a cruise on the Chao Phraya River which winds through the city before it branches off into the smaller canals which explore and give a glimpse of the old city. A daytrip to Ayutthaya in Central Thailand found us visiting magnificent and exotic Heritage Sites and ruins from the day Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand. For additional post operative “recovery” -and body/ mind rejuvination we flew from Bangkok to beautiful Krabi which lies in the southern part of Thailand.

The unspoiled terrain of AoNang, Thailand’s southern province on the Adaman Sea is a tropical wonderland, complete with powdery beaches, translucent waters, adventuresome caves and towering cliffs. The seclusion of Pai-Plong, and our private beach, accessible only by boat made the Centara Grand Beach and Resort Hotel and Villas a storybook setting and was an evocative haven to health. Delectable Thai food and holistic spa therapy immensely added to assist with the necessary “post-operative pampering” and great memory making between mother and daughter. As it was one of Stephanie’s “notable” birthday’s we took an additional day to visit Ao Phang-nga National Park, located north/east of Phuket. The park is renowned for its haunting natural beauty and awe inspiring seascape.

One of the many islands of the park is Ko Phanak, also known as the “James Bond Island” which is famed as the location for the movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” in addition for being noted for its sandy white beaches and gorgeous caves which one can explore only during low tide and on a paddle boat. A swim in the pristine water with fresh fruit being served on the beach by the staff, topped of a truly magical day before heading home to the resort.

When considering medical treatment abroad, one must however consider that there always is the possibility of systemic risk following treatment. It therefore is imperative to continue to be your own patient advocate by insuring expert follow up care at home.

It was a “true treat” and a wonderful adventure to explore this beautiful country and its gentle people. This, along with the outstanding care I received and the large amount of returning international patients speak highly for the quality of care at the Bangkok International Dental Center and for Thailand’s efforts to become the Medical Hub of Asia. They have my sincere gratitude, as does Dr. Henry Takei who divides his time as a teaching professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry and taking care of a busy practice near downtown Los Angeles. My dental records were electronically forwarded to his office, which provides me with excellent dental follow up care right here at home.

Whether you travel cross town or out of the country to a “One Stop Dental Care Facility” the health care revolution driven by consumers and by the innovations of an ever expanding global marketplace with quality and price comparison made easy via the internet, gives indi-viduals who control some of their own health care dollars the opportunity to benefit financially by consuming health care wisely. As de-ductibles for the average health care plan will continue to expand, so will the number of people grow who are interested in the combina-tion of quality and cost effective health care. The global competitive market place will make a revamping of the U.S. health care system imperative; especially since the health care sector accounts for close to one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

As always, it remains an honor and a pleasure to share valuable information with you.

Until next time then...

Helma Christiane Bloomberg
Building Community via Cross-Cultural Dialogue

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
Bloomberg Publications April 2009

I thank the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO, and ISESCO for affording me this special honor of speaking to you today. Indeed, these wonderful organizations demonstrate time and again that we have a dynamic and historically unprecedented opportunity for cross-cultural communication. And, certainly, this present international forum on “Expanding the Role of Women in Cross Cultural Dialogue” provides yet another exceptional example. Surely, the presence of a woman such as myself - a resident of California, who lives a few miles from the Pacific Ocean - at this meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, along the Caspian Sea proves that great cultural divides may be crossed, and that our common humanity may be discovered in the 21st century.

We gather on this occasion to answer a question: Do we live in an era of increasing conflict or unity in human civilization? To this, I respond, “BOTH.” Our world is distinguished by stunning examples of cohesion and fragmentation, increasing order and rising chaos, persistent nationalism and emergent humanism, more secularism and more fundamentalism.

Respected scholarship on these issues is appropriately divided. On the one hand, witness to an apparently ineradicable chasm between the Judeo-Christian and Muslim worlds, we discover some truth in the Bernard Lewis-Samuel Huntington significant thesis about a Clash of Civilizations and cultures. Yet, from another perspective, On the other, we encounter a different version of our collective future when New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman describes a Flat world that is increasingly inter-connected and inter-dependent.

Perhaps human beings must battle over limited, finite resources on this small planet. Or, perhaps humanity can escape the zero-sum game in which one party’s victory must be another’s loss. The American author Robert Wright, for example, has significantly written about the way two agents can each come out ahead if they cooperate by trading goods, by dividing up labor, or sharing the peace dividend that comes from laying down their arms.

We surely know this about ourselves and our nature: Human beings are innocent, noble souls degraded by the offenses of civilization. And, we also manifest instincts about survival and, beyond that, lust for power. Both assessments of human nature are needed to accurately portray the full richness, the light and the dark sides, the Yin and the Yang of human experience.

And so the 21st Century, no doubt, will be known for 9/11, for The Iraq War, for Darfur, for global climate change, and, sadly, for other nightmares and atrocities yet to come. But, it will also be distinguished by the growth of interdependent webs and meshes of commerce, technology, communication, and science that raise standards of living, education, and health for billions. As has been the case throughout human history, by choice and by necessity, the segregated peoples of the world are being drawn together.

To respond to these processes, I suggest that we must blend an unsentimental, stark realism with a genuine optimism. Too many are suffering, and we must always be prepared to defend human rights fiercely.

I hope my words today will echo the great insight of Albert Einstein when he said that “No problem may be solved at the same level of consciousness which created it.” The problems are real, but so is our capacity to foster a greater and more generous consciousness to solve them.

Of course, I recognize that my own perspective has emerged from the particular circumstances of my life and its history. I see both the darkness and the light of our present civilization because I have intimate experience with the greatest horrors as well as the most fortunate opportunities of my generation.

I was born in Berlin, Germany on November 4th, a few months after the end of the Second World War. Six months earlier, in May, as the western Allies bombarded the city, my parents - who where Catholic - had tried to flee and escape the blockade. During their attempted escape, however, my father was tragically killed by shrapnel and bled to death in my mother’s arms. My pregnant mother then returned to the city, and I was thereafter born. As a young child in a devastated country, I suffered from typhus and nearly died. Berlin had a poor, unhealthy food supply - milk, for example, was often contaminated. I felt the horrible aftermath of war - its displacement and dislocation - and it afflicted my family.

I also must tell you that the tragedy of war had forced three generations of my family into Berlin when it had not been home to any of us. You see, my parents had been living in Paris since 1940. But, they then felt cause to cross Western Europe at the height of the war in an effort to unite with my mother’s parents who had been displaced from their home in Switzerland and forced to relocate in Germany. My Swiss-born grandmother and my German-born grandfather had been living in Zurich for their entire marriage - indeed, my grandfather had moved to Switzerland in 1916. But, the Swiss repatriated all Germans by the end of 1945 - just as the United States expelled many German nationals too. So, my grandparents and parents made their way to Berlin. The family re-united, my father lost his life, and I was born.

After the war, my mother remarried, and I gained a loving step-father. He was Lutheran, and I then experienced a traditional upbringing in that faith. After several years of poverty and dislocation after the war, as I’ve described, my parents found a livelihood in the art and antique business. They developed a close relationship with the Abbot of the Archiconvent Des Griechischen Orthodoxen Katholischen und Ritterlichen Chor – und Hospitaliter-Ordens Der Templer — a relationship my family has enjoyed for over 50 years. When my mother later died in 1990, in her hometown of Munich, she was administered the last rights by the Abbot of the Archiconvent - in full regalia – and in the Greek Orthodox tradition. My mother’s life expressed a deep spirituality – and a capacity for a transcendent inter-faith connection.

I first became fascinated with the United States when one of my teachers in Germany inspired us with wonderful stories about Americans. This teacher - his name was Director Luther - had been the Dean of my boarding school as well as a History and English teacher. Director Luther’s warm feelings for America were ironic because U.S. soldiers had occupied his home in Germany during the war. Rather than horror stories, Director Luther spoke warmly about the American soldiers and the way they treated his family so well. Director Luther’s experience with the American occupation influenced my optimism that ethnic or national barriers - ostensibly insurmountable - may be overcome.

I moved to the United States in 1966. I first settled in Palm Springs, California due to the hospitality of a friend of my mother’s. I attended college, and I eventually met my husband. He was a doctor, - a urologist - and his family was Jewish. We raised two children in the predominantly Jewish-American community of Beverly Hills. I constantly faced questions in the community atlarge about my relationship to Nazi Germany. People assumed I was a Nazi sympathizer even though I had been born after the war and even though my family, along with others, had been forced to leave Switzerland for re-settlement in the destroyed Germany. I detest all dictatorship.

Still, that a Christian woman of central European heritage like myself - no less with the middle name of Christiane - could freely move half-way across the world and marry a Jew describes one miracle of our contemporary civilization.

And, just as surely, another miracle is my adult experience as a goodwill and cultural ambassador which has led me to this proud moment in front of you today.

And so my life has been shaped by the great conflict of the 20th century, and also by the hopeful movement of peoples and integration of cultures that it hastened. From my life, I understand that conflict is a necessary prerequisite for significant change - that, as awful as it may be, conflict stimulates growth. Frederick Douglass, the great 19th century American emancipator, describes this dynamic most eloquently. In 1857, on the occasion of the abolition of slavery in the West Indies, Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who…depreciate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning…They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one or it may be a physical one…but it must be a struggle.”

And the world is so often, too often, struggling. We are numbed by ubiquitous examples of violence - guns and gangs in my American homeland, suicide bombers in the Middle East. At times, it seems that modern civilization has only engineered hatred, and that our sleek technologies deliver a bottom-line of killing and destruction and waste.

But our wars and genocides, while they demonstrate our savage capacity, also stimulate this dialectic of progress. Again, to me, this is the physics of civilization: conflict animates progress and ultimately generates enlightenment. In the developmental arc of history, we witness the rise of tribes and then their replacement by nations. And now, out of nations, we are discovering a nascent global consciousness and hopeful new institutions - the United Nations and its International Court of Justice, the Geneva Convention, the European Union, and the recently formed International Criminal Court.

While human beings have not evolved beyond violence, several positive trends are evident. As scientist Stephen Pinker puts it, “the decline of violence is visible at the scale of millennia, centuries, decades, and years…If the wars of the twentieth century had killed the same proportion of the population that die in the wars of a typical [pre-modern] tribal society, there would have been two billion deaths, not 100 million.” Likewise, the Human Security Brief tells us that the number of battle deaths from interstate wars has declined from 65,000 per year in the 1950s to less than 2,000 in 2006. Great superpowers no longer line up in mortal combat; former enemies now join cause and seek to neutralize and isolate the threat posed by various reactionary extremists. And here we are.

So nationalism is waning, and that’s mostly a happy development. I recognize that there is good in nationalism and ethnicity that must be preserved no doubt. Such traits express our independence and identity. Whoever I am, that is special. We strive to preserve our unique heritage, our way of speaking, our way of making culture, our way of knowing Spirit.

However, the pathological forms of nationalism, ethnicity, and religion always fail to tolerate - let alone accept - difference. This pathology produces a lonely, suspicious, cynical, and desperate way of being. Projecting fear onto an-“other,” our ethno-centrism can become a murderous, decadent ideology. This fear of the other certainly appears in George Bush’s politics in my America as it does in the radical interpretation of jihad in the Muslim world.

If we are to survive, let alone thrive, we must transcend these virulent forms of nationalism and work toward humanism. Each human being is sacred and, if we must judge, as Martin Luther King insisted, let’s judge according to the content of our characters and not the color of our skin or the names of our faiths. King’s words from the Birmingham Jail still resonate in our hearts and minds - whether we apply them to scientific challenges like global climate change or the political stalemate among peoples in Africa or the Middle East. As King said on that occasion, “We are caught in an inescapable web of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all of us indirectly.”

As we set aside our vain prejudices to embrace our common cause as human beings, however, we must be careful about what we enfold within humanism - its name can be misused too. After all, humanism becomes offensive and inhumane when it smirks at all tradition and replaces it with a vague or bland conformity. Humanism can be especially problematic when it only means the bottom-line of the marketplace. If so, we will be stuck in a homogenized McWorld with a Coke and a Starbuck’s and a cell phone and an Ipod and a YouTube in every corner. When I come to Baku, I want to drink Baku’s coffee and enjoy Azerbaijani cuisine. The unusual is symbolic. Against the intrusions of greedy commerce, we must protect unique cultures, their distinctive arts, and our sacred ideas.

Regardless of these broad trends, each of us - life by life, day by day - can push through on a personal basis to make a difference. I think Churchill called this “soldiering on,” and I’ve always been inspired by that phrase. New consciousness does not require the restructuring of the global order of nations or a new epoch of technology. An enlightened, humane way of thinking and acting is available to all of us, now. Such personal transformation may have not been available in the old Soviet Union, but it is now. It may not have been accessible in the old People’s Republic of China, but now we can hope that our giants to the east will trade ideas as well as manufactured goods. And, that they’ll voluntarily agree to limit their carbon emissions.

Regardless of the great diplomatic initiatives, on a local level in every small way, each of us must renew Gandhi’s pledge “to be the change we want to see in the world.” Where we see an opportunity to support early childhood education, embrace it. Where there’s a spark to bring young people together in a multinational camp, ignite it. Where a community can afford the means to conserve resources, implement it. Where individuals commit violence, stop it. Where people speak out for freedom, protect it. Where students express their creativity, rejoice in it.

We know what works - education, literacy, nutrition, ethical business and government. We know what doesn’t work - dumbed-down people who become fodder for manipulative media and pray at the altar of commerce. As Dr. King explained in Birmingham, “Our challenge is to create a political culture that nurtures obligation, reciprocity, and trust, to bring out policies that have a wide public support.”

We are not yet at peace, but we will continue to eliminate suffering and improve life. Like King, and Gandhi, and Douglass, and Churchill, and Gandhi, we can and will “soldier on.” With ever-expanding awareness and concern, we will find common cause, unify humanity, and solve our most prescient conflicts. And we will also preserve the unique distinctions of our cultures, our faiths, and our selves.

Of the various inspirational quotations from history I have cited today, let me conclude by recalling the profound words of Mahatma Gandhi. As Gandhi taught us, and I quote:
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it - always.”

Again, I thank you and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO, and ISESCO for this conference and for the opportunity to share with you my most sincere goodwill as cultural ambassador.

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg

The Heydar Aliyev Foundation, in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) recently hosted the first International Forum, “Expanding the Role of Women in Cross Cultural Dialogue” in Baku. Azerbaijan’s gracious and eloquent First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva who serves as the President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, as well as Goodwill Ambassador for both UNESCO and ISESCO, lead this effort.

From the moment the invitation of the Ministry of Azerbaijan arrived, it was apparent that this would be a significant conference. As Forum participants we would be afforded the opportunity to exchange ideas and build bridges of goodwill between East and West.

Baku at NightThe organizations deserve much praise for bringing together close to 400 distinguished and dynamic individuals from across the globe. Azerbaijan while observing and holding dear its many sacred customs is showing itself as a leader by embracing East and West equally.

It was already dark when our Lufthansa flight approached our final destination, the capitol of Azerbaijan -the intriguing and beautiful city of Baku on the banks of the Caspian Sea. The lights of the city glimmered below and the scenery was reminiscent of our Santa Monica coastline in California. Stepping off the plane, the sky was clear and the air brisk. Many participants had journey far to contribute to the International Forum as the combined efforts of this event would unquestionably assist in transforming many women’s lives.

Arriving at the airport we were exuberantly greeted by the Organizing Committee, who very efficiently took care of all custom and luggage details -and before we knew it we where whisked away in private cars headed by a cadre of escort vehicles, their sirens clearing the way for us at every intersection. It was to be one of the many luxuries we were to enjoy throughout the entire stay of our visit. With such royal treatment, we arrived at the Park Hyatt Hotel within the hour and could prepare for the opening day of the Forum by still taking pleasure in a few prized hours of sleep.

Forum ParticipantsThe following day all dignitaries arrived at the Gulustan Palace for our first day of talks. Luminaries included the First Ladies of Angola, Latvia, Poland, South Africa and the State of Texas, the wives of Argentina’s Vice- President and Turkey’s Prime Minister and other prominent guests of these countries, along with a delegation from the U.S. which included representatives from California, Hawaii, Illinois, the State of Washington and Texas.

The U.S. Western delegation had been invited to participate under the auspices of the Consulate General of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles which is under the directive of the Honorable Consul General Elin Suleymanov. It is through his many efforts and gifted leadership, along with the efforts of his very capable team that we first grew to love and admire their innovative homeland.

Additional delegations from around the globe included representatives from Germany, France, Italy, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, Qatar, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil, Mexico, Ireland, Romania, India, Greece, Russia, Malta, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, the Ukraine, Georgia, Gambia, Moldova, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Lebanon, the Congo, Slovenia, Iraq, Canada, Tajikistan, Algeria, Nigeria, Lithuania, Senegal, Hungary, Jordan, Belarus, Mali, Spain, Uzbekistan, Japan and Austria ….. to mention only a few.

Shirvanshah PalaceAt the commanding Gulustan Palace, which is used for formal affairs and major conferences, we were escorted to one of the grand conference rooms upstairs. Close to 400 seats had been arranged in a square, each seat containing its own translation device. The working languages of the Forum were Arabic, Azerbaijani, English, French and Russian. All rooms of the palace were tastefully and richly adorned with white roses and an assortment of striking flowers. Hundreds of lights, television cameras, photographers and big screen TV’s underscored the importance of the event.

The International Forum Opening Session commenced with a warm and most gracious welcome by the First Lady of Azerbaijan, Dr. Mehriban Aliyeva who said that greater participation of women in political life will help to bridge cultural, economic and social divides. Madame Aliyeva, who chaired the event, was beautifully coiffed and elegantly dressed in western attire. Her husband, H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan sent a message of salutation to all participants and extended his best wishes for a successful conference. Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, Director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO,) sent his greetings and stated that UNESCO is very pleased to support the initiatives of the forum. The Youth Forum was opened by Moderator Mr. Elshad Iskandarov, Secretary General, Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation, who stated that the objective of the Youth Forum was to lift the role of young women and to attract attention of the world community to these issues. Ms. Leyla Aliyeva, Alliance of Civilizations coordinator of the Youth Forum, added glamour and substance by discussing the role of young women in the dialogue of cultures in our modern and ever changing world.

As Keynote Speaker I had selected Conflict or Unity of Human Civilization “A New Global Consciousness” to be my primary topic of presentation. The presentation illustrated that we recognize an altogether different perspective of humanity’s future when we read New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman describe a Flat world that is increasingly inter-connected and inter-dependent. In addition to the first subject matter I had also prepared remarks for the Youth Forum. In honor of Azerbaijan I named these remarks “The Feminine Embrace,” as it was fitting that this meeting was held in Baku. Azerbaijan was the first nation of the East and among the first world-wide, to give voting rights to women. As a matter of fact, it enabled political participation of women two years before the United States. Azerbaijan’s significant step opened avenues for women in many countries to take their rightful place in public, social, political, and international life.

Helma Bloomberg speaking at the Int. ForumKeynote Speakers expressed their views, choosing from several topics of the conference. Sessions one through four offered discussions on: I: “Conflict or Unity of Human Civilization,” II: “Awe towards Women, Awe towards Life,” III: “National Consciousness as a Shield against turning People into “Particles of Globalization“ and session IV: “East and West: “How Do We View Each Other” was addressed by Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General (Organization of the Islamic Conference.) He pointed out the necessity that we have to learn even more about each other then before because of globalization. The Secretary General also expressed confidence that this meeting will set forth a momentum which will only gain in strength. Closing statements were given by Madame Meriban Aliyeva and Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Alwauri, Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) who stated: “Let us work together with an open-mind and a tolerant civilizational vision towards promoting dialogue of cultures and understanding between peoples to fend off the calls for hatred as well as religious and cultural discrimination.” Ms. Katerina Stenou, Director, Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO,) concluded the session by also calling for unity and progress. All presentations were followed by passionate question and answer sessions.

The Forum powerfully examined how women can assume a greater role in breaking down stereotypes that exist among various cultures and participants were again called upon to help foster tolerance within individual ethnicities and civilizations around the globe. Underscored in particular was the important role education, the media and the internet will play in facilitating the membership of women in all spheres of the decision-making, as well as in the peace building processes.

Forum working sessions lasted from early morning until late afternoon. Stimulated by fresh information and new friendships to be explored -time simply flew by. During and after conference session’s all guests were invited to delectable luncheon buffets and lavish dinners showcasing Azeri cuisine which displayed an intriguing blend of influences from Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and even India. Jimmy Delshad and Helma Bloomberg Especially favored was one of the delicacies of the Caspian Sea –Caviar. The reception at the gorgeously decorated Baku Entertainment Center was hosted by Dr. Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Jimmy Delshad, former Mayor of Beverly Hills addressed the audiences at the Yacht Club ceremonial dinner which was hosted by Dr. Hijran Huseynova, Chairperson of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Before departing, and on the last day of our stay, tours had been arranged to view the Carpet Museum, as well as the historic sites of Mardakan and Qabala, a city which was created in the late 4th, early 3rd century B.C. Another evening found all participants at the outdoor Baku Green Theater where the organizations had arranged for a soiree of music presentations. Mug Ham Musicians The concert brilliantly embraced prominent compositions of Eastern and Western artists. Azerbaijan’s own Mugham music with its exotic appeal was much treasured by the audience. It could well be because Mugham has its roots in the spiritual which transcends all geographical and religious boundaries. According to what is believed, Mugham comes from the Muslim call for prayer. This heavenly music along with the passion of the musicians and the fiery dancers in their colorful costumes reached deep into our hearts, as did the generosity of our hosts.

The “Baku Declaration 2008” underlined the importance of all participants to spare no effort to actively promote the implementation of provisions of the Declaration at national, regional and international levels.

Once again, I express my most genuine appreciation to the HEYDAR ALIYEV FOUNDATION, the First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva, UNESCO and ISESCO for their most gracious hospitality, for making this Forum possible and for welcoming us into their communities.

The outcome of the Baku Forum, as President Ilham Aliyev in his opening message had hoped for, has now become reality. The Forum has already stimulated many activities and has turned into an unforgettable experience for all of us. Because of my affiliation with the Forum, I too will reach out into several exiting new directions and am looking forward to working with the organizations in the future. Thank you Azerbaijan, you proved yourself once again to be an innovative, democratic, worldly and hospitable friend to all cultures.

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
Bloomberg Publications October 2008

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine July/Aug 2008, p.29

The 60th Anniversary of Israel has special significance for the Jewish and Evangelical Christian communities of Los Angeles. This remarkable milestone will be celebrated on May 21, 2008 at 7:30 PMat the GreatWestern Forumin Inglewood in a joyous celebration with one of the best Jewish and Christian choirs and orchestras in Los Angeles.

The Israel-Christian Nexus was created in 2002 to bring Christians and Jews together in support of the people and state of Israel. Established by one of Israel’s founding fathers and one of its most decorated war heroes, General Shimon Erem (ret.), the organization is guided by a Board of Advisors that includes prominent Christian and Jewish clergy and community leaders from across the broad spectrumof denominations and traditions.

A principal focus of the Israel-Christian Nexus is education – working with churches, synagogues and religious schools on programs to promote better understanding of Israel’s past and present both from a biblical and historical perspective and to bring the two communities together in expressions of solidarity.

A large cross section of leaders in the primary Jewish and primary non-Jewish communities, who collectively represent a few million residents of Los Angeles, joined by the Consul General of Israel, have consented to participate in this community building event. The Mayor of both Los Angeles and Inglewood will greet the celebration. Also in attendancewill be prominent religious leaders, several members of the Diplomatic Corps, German-American cultural societies, political leaders, many Christian friends of Israel and the Jewish community of the Greater Los Angeles area.

The Nexus also serves as a resource for Jewish and Christian groups on issues facing the Middle East today and on the escalating worldwide threat to Judeo-Christian values and democratic societies from fundamentalist Islam.

The 60th Anniversary of Israel is likely the last opportunity to bring together representatives of the State of Israel’s founders with a large assembly of successive generations of Jews and Christians.

For more information on the event and on how to participate please call (310) 444 3065 or e-mail icnexus.info@gmail.com

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine May/June 2008, p.31

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, March/April 2008, p.34

“After his outstanding successes here during the 2006/07 Season, his debut season as Music Director of the Company, I am proud that LA Opera’s musical excellence will remain under the exceptional guidance of this world-class artist”, Domingo said in the press conference announcing the contract extension for LA Opera music director James Conlon through June 30, 2011, the year that LA Opera will celebrate its 25th Anniversary. By that time, he will have conducted numerous landmark productions for the Company, including three complete Ring cycles scheduled for 2010, and several fully-staged productions in the multi-year Recovered Voices project, devoted to presenting the works of early 20th-century composers suppressed by the Nazis.

After an artistically successful season under the leadership of Austrian native Andreas Mitisek that also left Long Beach Opera (LBO) on firm financial footing, LBO recently announced featuring four productions including a World premiere; a never-before-attempted staging of an opera at an Olympic pool; and a reprisal of Grigori Frid’s Anne Frank opera in parking garages. In the “OPERA AT THE POOL” Metropolitan and LA Opera star Elizabeth Futral will sing “Euridice” in this world premiere of composer Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus & Euridice (Feb. 17 – 19, 2008). The composer’s Grapes of Wrath at Minnesota Opera Company in February 2007 was the talk of opera fans and critics around the world.

With his tuxedo, slick hair and cheeky demeanor, singer-bandleader Max Raabe and his dazzling 12-piece Palast Orchester capture the essence of Berlin’s cabaret culture of the 1920s and ‘30s. Max Raabe and Palast Orchester- ”Heute Nacht Oder Nie” (Tonight or Never) will be appearing at UCLA Live’s Royce Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m.

The LA Opera announced that Austrian tenor Joseph Kaiser who was supposed to make his company debut as Steva in Jenufa in October was released from the contract upon special request from the Metropolitan Opera in New York for the MET production of Roméo et Juliette starring Rolando Villazón and Anna Netrebko in the title roles under the baton of Plácido Domingo. Since illness forced Villazón to withdraw from committing to all performances, Joseph Kaiser will have the unique opportunity to perform opposite Anna Netrebko on October 3, 6 and 11. It is a tremendous chance for a young singer like Kaiser whose 30th birthday in October will conincide with his debut at the MET. Kaiser’s busy concert schedule includes Das Paradies und die Peri with Sir Simon Rattle and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Berlioz’s Requiem with the Berlin Philharmonic, and a North American recital tour with venues at Carnegie Hall, in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma. Kaiser, a very exciting young artist who was a winner of Operalia in 2005 and a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2005, also sings Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte this season at the MET.

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, September/October 2007

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
Celebrity Society Aug/Sept 2007, p.47

It all started in 1050 when Munich (originally “zu den Moenchen” ) received its name from a small band of monks. It received official status as a town in 1158, and in 1255 it became the seat of the Wittelsbach dynasty, which ruled for almost 750 years.

“The Metropolis with a Heart,” as Munich is affectionately called, lies at the foot of the Alps and is surrounded by picturesque lakes, streams, and castles. This “village of 1.3 million” is a “Mega Star” of art and culture, boasting 45 museums, 130 public libraries, and 58 theaters.

One of its foremost theaters is the National Theater, home to the Bavarian State Opera. This opera house was originally built in 181; and with 2,101 seats, 40 different operas, and 10 different ballet performances every season, the Bavarian State Opera, together with the Vienna State Opera and the Met in New York, is among the leading houses in the world with regard to the variety and innovation of programs.

The Munich Opera Festival, which takes place every year for the entire month of July, is the “sparkling star” of the Muenchner “Kulturhimmel.” Maestro Kent Nagano, who recently accepted the post of General Music Director at the Bavarian State Opera and who will become an official member of the Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts, will open this year’s festival premiere with a new opera, Alice in Wonderland. The opera was written by Korean composer Unsuk Chin in collaboration with David Henry Whang, her librettist, author of the award winning play, M. Butterfly. The staging and production of this fairy tale are in the magical hands of Achim Freyer. A second festival premiere will be held on July 21 with Gioachino Rossini’s turbulent opera Il Turco in Italia in the Prinzregenten Theater.

With innumerous operas, concerts, and recitals at various venues throughout the month of July, as well as the festival concert Opera for All on Friday, July 13, 2007, Modest Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, and the Wagner Gala Concert on Sunday, July 8, with Placido Domingo – all three events will be broadcast live on the big screen on Max-Joseph Platz – this year’s festival under Maestro Kent Nagano’s artistic direction again offers something for everyone.

Growing up within two minutes walking distance from the opera house on Hildegard Strasse, which runs parallel to Maximilian Strasse, one of the main shopping streets in Munich, similar to Rue St. Honore in Paris or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, my family and I enjoyed at firsthand some wonderful performances at this opera house.

My parents used to sell fine arts at the “Alter Kunstblock” and once a year, they would exhibit at the “Haus der Kunst” along with International Art and Antique Dealers. While strolling through the Englisher Garten, do stop at the Haus der Kunst. This very prestigious and historic building was recently the venue site for the “Ball der Kuenste,” where Maestro Nagano, in his capacity as General Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera, invited 1,800 guests for an unforgettable ball, the proceeds of which went to benefit the arts.

This charming city and its name have also been associated with the Olympic Games, Fasching, Schwabing and the Viktualien Markt, an open air food market with colorful stalls, offering international specialties. Don’t forget to saunter across the Marienplatz, Munich’s central square. Take in the Glockenspiel at town hall at 11 am. In the center of town, close to the opera house, the “Dirndl Ecke,” which custom tailors dirndl’s, a traditional Bavarian dress, is still outfitting the “who’s who,” of Munich society. Not far from there, you can stop in at the Hofbraeuhaus, one of the oldest traditional beer gardens, for a typical Bavarian “Brotzeit” which consists of “Weisswurst,” a Bavarian specialty sausage made of veal, lemon peel, and spices. Along with listening to the sounds of a Bavarian brass band, the meal is best enjoyed with a crisp Bretzel, sweet mustard, and fresh wheat beer. Prosit –und ein wohl auf “Gemuetlichkeit”

Don’t forget to take in the “Residence” and the “Cuvillies Theater,” both adjacent to the opera house. The “Alte Pinakothek,” is one of the oldest and most important galleries in the world – and then of course there is the Nymphenburg Palace. Oh, yes, the Asam Kirche is a must-see – and a mere two-hour drive from Munich will take you to the emerald green mountain lake of the Koenigsee or Castle Neuschwanstein, one of the many and great treasures of the area.

Find out for yourself – go explore and have a great time.

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine July/Aug 2007, p.32-33

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Issue 05/06 2007, p.31

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Issue 03/04 2007, p.33

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
Celebrity Society Feb/Mar 2007, p.72

In the United States, more than anywhere else in the world, the funding and nurturing of cultural, scientific and medical developments rely heavily on private initiatives and generous benefactors. These individuals work extremely hard supporting worthy causes by volunteering their time, knowledge and offering financial means. In the German-American community, one of the most active philanthropists is Helma Christiane Bloomberg, founder of the International Society of Cultural Ambassadors, who has been promoting culture, arts, sports and science for almost 30 years. Born in Berlin, raised in Munich, Bloomberg adheres to a rather Prussian work ethic with a strict schedule. Her LA-based office acts as a liaison to organizations and individuals dedicated to building bridges of friendship by promoting international culture. We met Bloomberg in Beverly Hills to find out more about her motivations and her activities as cultural ambassador.

GW: When did you start promoting culture and when was your International Society of Cultural Ambassadors established?
HCB: I started promoting the arts in 1979 when I was a board member and supporter of the former Los Angeles Ballet. The International Society of Cultural Ambassadors was established in 2003 with branches in Los Angeles and San Diego. It enjoys close ties with like-minded people around the globe.

GW: Would you like to share some of your engagements that are particularly close to your heart?
HCB: Following the engagement as a board member of the Los Angeles Ballet, I was heavily involved in fundraising for the Cedars-Sinai Diabetes Center for over a period of seven years which in 1992 culminated in chairing their three-day 20th Anniversary Fundraiser. The event was even televised on ESPN which made me very happy because our cause got exposure to hundreds of thousands of people.

GW: You have been also active in the field of education and Olympic dressage. How did this come about?
HCB: Well, both of our daughters attended the Beverly Hills schools and I served, for a time, on the Board of Directors of the Beverly Hills Education Foundation. My daughters and I also competed on horseback, as a family, and became close friends with Heather Bender, an Olympic contender and dressage trainer. I had the opportunity to support Heather to participate with her two horses at the Olympic Festival Tryouts in Saint Louis by initiating and chairing the US Olympic festival fundraiser and horseshow “Dancing Dressage Style”.

GW: Where does the inspiration and energy for your work come from?
HCB: I draw strength and inspiration fro smart, enthusiastic and supportive friends and a wonderful upbringing during which my family taught me the importance of values and enduring friendship. Assisting friends and organizations continues to be a joy and was a way of life during the postwar times in Germany. Therefore, it is a natural instinct for me to volunteer whenever an opportunity presents itself.

GW: I understand you are also an active supporter of the Los Angeles Opera.
HCB: Yes, as a board member of Los Angeles Opera, I initiated the Plaza Sweets Concert in Beverly Hills. This concert is currently in its fifth season, with an attendance of 800 plus, on an annual basis, generating continuous revenue for LA Opera. I was glad to be able to bring the Beverly Hills School Board and the Opera’s Education Department together, as well as opening the doors of the Beverly Hills Library for “Opera Talks.” I continue to invite and facilitate introductions of artists, potential new benefactors, ambassadors and members of the corps diplomatique to the opera.

“Courage is an important ingredient to successfully naviagate forward.” — H.C. Bloomberg

Some time ago, I initiated a dinner invitation at my friend’s home, Masaharu Kohno, then consul general of Japan and his wife Noriko Kohno, to introduce and honor Maestro Kent Nagano, former music director of Los Angeles Opera. That dinner served as the cornerstone to fund Maestro Nagano’s performance piece “Manzanar” which premiered in June 2005 at UCLA, through the Founders and Friends of the Japanese American National Museum. Manzanar is the name of a Japanese internment camp in the US. Nagano’s project brought attention to the plight of hundreds of thousands of WWII Japanese, German and Italian internees in the US. The destiny of innocent immigrants in the US during WWII is largely unknown among the American public, and it gave me great pleasure to be able to contribute to creating more awareness about Manzanar. Since I greatly care about all nationalities, I happily accepted the invitation in 2005 to take charge of the fundraising and promotion campaign for the Malaysian 54th international benefit ball “Malaysia Truly Asia”. This event honors consular corps members whose yearly participation raises money for the LA Philharmonic. My support also embraces Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand through the Asian Ladies Circle.

GW: In how far do you support German-American organizations?
HCB: I support them through financial contributions and publications of articles. I am a member of the Austrian American Council West and a sponsor of Berlin-LA Sister City. As a board member of the German-American Cultural Society, I organize an annual cultural event for the group. I am especially delighted to be associated with Mr. Eric Braeden, the president of this society, an extraordinary and eloquent spokesperson and ambassador of goodwill. All members of his board work tirelessly to improve German-Jewish relations which I enjoy supporting.

GW: You recently gave a speech on courage in San Diego upon the occasion of commemorating the centennial of the 1996 arrival of Filipino immigrants. Why did you choose courage as a topic?
HCB: Courage is a necessary ingredient in life to overcome obstacles. I chose courage as a topic because the audience consisted mainly of Filipino immigrants and fashion designers. To master the fear of immigrating to another country, facing major changes in life and the importance of dealing with a barrage of emotions, courage is an important ingredient to successfully navigate forward.

GW: Mrs. Bloomberg, thank you for the interview.
HCB: It is always an honor and a pleasure.

GW Magazine Jan/Feb 2007, p.26-27

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Issue 11/12 2006, p.27

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Issue 5 / 2006, p.26

Madame Angelique Larrieu and her husband, the Honorable French Consul General Philippe Larrieu, hosted yet another beautiful event at their residence.

Under Madame Larrieu’s direction a sumptuous luncheon was prepared by their in-house chef. This lovely garden party was being held in preparation of an annual fundraiser which is put on by the International Committee of the Los Angeles Philharmonic to support the artistry and fine programming of this outstanding institution.

Recently Angelino’s were treated to the virtuosity of world renowned French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and several times throughout the year the audience enjoys the exceptional talents of German born assistant conductor Alexander Mickelthwate who was selected through a competitive process that included over 150 applicants from around the world.

Before lunch was served guests were entertained by the children’s Choir of Le Lycee Francais which was founded in 1972 by Le Lycee Francais de Los Angeles as a community outreach program. The children’s choir was selected by the Cultural Services Section of the French Consulate to participate in the 1994 ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Germany.

Each year the International Committee showcases the culture and music of a different country. This magical occasion continues to foster understanding and appreciation of the cultural heritage each country offers.

This year the International Committee is honoring Great Britain and the Honorable Consul General of her Britannic Majesty, Mr. Bob Peirce is serving as Honorary Chair of the International Night Benefit Ball. Actor Michael York will serve as MC of this spectacular event and the Welsh Choir, along with the Royal Society of Scottish Country Dance will delight guests as they dance to the sound of the Jay Sterling Orchestra.

Among the illustrious guests of the event will be the Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, the Honorable Consul General of Belize and Mrs. Roy G. Young, as well as many distinguished members of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, all which support and grace the event with their presence and charm.

With such generous assistance, no wonder the Los Angeles Philharmonic is a striving institution.

Photos: Le Lycee choir under the direction of Choir master Pierre Leloup

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Issue 4 / 2006

The Los Angeles County is home to the second largest Consular Corps in the United States. Ninety one countries are represented in our community. Fifty nine consular posts (consulates) are headed by career consular officers and thirty-two consular posts are headed by honorary consular officers.

Consular titles include Consul General, Deputy Consul General, Consul, Vice Consul or Consular Agent. Consular officers, both career and honorary provide important services both to the government which they represent and to the citizens of the consular district to which they are assigned. All but one consular district extends well beyond Los Angeles County- most extending throughout the Western United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

Among other things, a consul general and/or the head of a consular post represents his/her country’s interest-economic, commercial, scientific, cultural and educational-within the consular district to which he/she is assigned in the United States; fosters cultural and ethnic ties between his/her country and the local population; renders assistance to his/her country’s nationals, processes visa and passport requests and serves as an ambassador of goodwill from his/her country to ours.

The Mission Statement of the Consular Corps is “to foster und promote good will, friendly relations and cooperation among its members and between the Consular Corps and all appropriate governmental entities within the United States and the local community.”

The Consular Corps supports major organizations at the music Center, such as the Los Angeles Opera and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in particular. Consul Generals and their respective Consulate individually support a myriad of cultural events, in particular those pertaining to their own country. Such events may include, but are not limited to Musical Events, such as (Contemporary, Opera, Jazz, etc.) Poetry, Dance (EG Riverdance) Recitals (both public and private), and Art Exhibitions.

Proceeds from the annual Consular Corps Holiday Ball each year benefit a charity of their choice.

A welcoming arm to the Ladies in the Los Angeles Consular Corps is the Los Angeles Consular Corps Ladies Association. The organization invites all ladies in each Consulate to join the organization. Membership is not restricted to wives of the Consuls General but is open to all wives of all Consular Officers and to women Consular Officers.

The Los Angeles Consular Corps Ladies Association organizes tours several times a year to acquaint new members with places of interest in the community and assists newly arrived spouses to become acquainted with people who have been involved in the organization for some time.

At Christmas some of the monies raised or collected are spent on gifts for children at a local homeless shelter.

Photo: The Excutives of the Consular Corps Los Angeles : (Left to right) Isinthorn Sornvai (Secretary), Honorable C.onsul General of Thailand; Abdelhak Saoud (Treasurer), Honorary Consul of Morocco; Allen I. Neiman (Second Vice Dean), Honorary Consul General of Burkina Faso; Roy G. Young (Dean), Honorable Consul General of Belize ; M. Finbar Hill (Chief of Protocol), Honorary Consul of Ireland.

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Issue 3 / 2006, p.26

Musical brilliance and excitement was brought to the stage at the Pasadena Civic on January 22, 2006. Evgeni Mikailov and Wen Yu Shen headlined a benefit with proceeds going to the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition and Festival. The organization was first conceived and then founded by Mr. Armen Ter-Tatevosian while he was teaching international master classes. He thought to bring together his contacts and knowledge in music and in 2002 the first competitions were successfully held in Pasadena, California. The 2005 RIPCF Competition took place at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Last year 32 competitors from 14 nations competed for very lucrative prizes and career recognition before an international jury made up of some of the most revered names in the piano world. The next competitions are scheduled for 2007.

Wen Yu Shen (China), Gold Medal Winner, was just 18 years of age when he won the competition in 2005. At the age of four he had his first piano lesson. At age eight he entered the Chengdu Conservatory in China. After giving many recitals and playing concerts all over Europe, Wen Yu Shen, accompanied by his mother moved to Germany and continued his training with Prof. Gunther Hauer in the University of Music, in Karlsruhe, Germany. At age 11 he won first prize at the Shanghai Competition and two years later first prize at the Seiler Piano Competition for Young Pianists in Kitzingen, Germany. His professors described him as a “Wunderkind.”

He has performed both in Berlin with the Deutsche Symphonie Orchestra under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazi, and with the Russian National Orchestra under the renowned Mikhail Pletnev.

The beautiful Patron of the Arts after-concert dinner reception was hosted with much enthusiasm and style at the residence of Executive Committee Members Mr. Carl and Mrs. Grace Walker. Patrons were treated to sumptuous food and more musical delights by the ever-generous artists who stand among the best in their field.

The RIPCF maintains a strong Education and Community Outreach Program. Keeping in that spirit, the organization coordinated with the City of Glendale Arts and Culture Commission through Commissioner Zen Lopez and the district to put on a concert for students from several school districts before the event at the Pasadena Civic.

The competitions and festivals are organized by Los Angeles based Master Classes International.

For more information on how to participate contact ripcf@usa.net

Photos (from top): [1] Helma Christiane Bloomberg (center) with Armen Ter-Tatevosian (l.), the artists Wen Yu Shen (2.f.l.) and Evgeni Mikhailov (2.f.r.) and with Zen Lopez (r.), Commissioner of Art and Culture in Glendale. Photos by Rene Villaroman, PPP [2] Pianist Wen Yu Shen from China, winner of the 2005 RIPCF Competition, at the Walt Disney Hall [3] Evgeni Mikhailov (l.) from Russia (winner of the 2002 competition), with Armen Ter- Tatevosian, Founder & Festival Director

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Issue 2 / 2006, p.20

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Issue 1 / 2006, p.24

The present and the future are in good hands at the Met through fine programming and through the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. The purpose of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions is to provide a venue for young opera singers from all over the country and to discover new talent for possible participation in the Mets Lindeman Development Program.

Singers proceed through district and then regional competitions. All first place regional winners are brought to New York to compete at the National Semi-Finals. This year's first prize winner of the Western Regional Finals, which each year is held at the Bovard Auditorium on the USC Campus is Character Tenor Mr. Rodell Aure Rosel. His performance of the "Aria of the Worm" took everyone's heart by storm. Soprano Sarah Jane McMahon whom we can enjoy on stage at Los Angeles Opera was another favorite of the many talented young singers present.

One week later, the winners of the National Semi-Finals, usually 10 are selected, will proceed to the National Council Grand Finals. This competition takes place on stage at the Metropolitan Opera. From here singers are selected to participate in the Metropolitan Opera Lindeman Program. This program continues to foster the career of young singers and for many; inclusion in this program is the springboard to a very illustrious career.

In 2005 two new productions are scheduled for the Met at the first time. Charles Gounod's Faust will hold its New Production Premier on April 21st 2005. James Levine and Steven Crawford are sharing the conductor's pit. Production by Elijah Moshinsky and Set Design by Michael Yeargan. Taking the stage are Soile Isokoski, Veronica Villarroel, Christine Jepson/Jossie Perez, Dimitri Hvorostovsy/Hung Yun, Rene Pape and Roberto Alagna will delight in the role of the dissatisfied philosopher.

Another Metropolitan Opera Premiere will take place on May 13th, 2005 with the production of Franco Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac, directed by Francesca Zambello with Marco Armiliato conducting. Set Design by Peter Davison. Super Star Placido Domingo will sing the title role. Others in leading roles include Sondra Radvanovsky, Raymond Ve r y, Anthony Michaels-Moore and Roberto de Candia.

Photo: Opera Singer and one of the finalist Sarah Yane McMahon (left/links) with Patron of the Arts Helma Christiane Bloomberg (center/mitte).

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, p.30

Be my Valentine - Magnificent Los Angeles Opera and its beloved Maestro Placido Domingo are planning a most romantic and entertaining “ Very Black Tie Gala” Dinner Dance for Valentine’s Day, Monday February 14th, 2005 on Los Angeles Opera’s “Grand Stage” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Stars of “Romeo and Juliette,” glorious Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazon, Simone Alberghini and a very special surprise guest will light up your life and delight with musical vignettes from this Opera which opens January 29th. Join the festivity; allow yourselves to be enchanted by strolling strings as you dine and dance the night away with the one you love.

There is still time for you to join in, let your answer be yes to spending a fantastic evening with an organization which continues to give the gift of music to people of all ages through their fantastic programming, their Education Department, their Resident Artist Program as well as Mr. Domingo’s World Opera Competition “Operalia.” For information about the Valentine’s Day Gala, please call 213.972.8001

The International Committee of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, this year will honor Malaysia, a land of fascinating culture and attractions. The Honorable Consul General of Malaysia Mr. Mohd Zulkephli Mohd Noor and his wife, Dr. Noor H a s i m a have, along with members of the committee created a truly memorable Gala for you.

Each year the Gala showcases the culture and music of the chosen country for that particular year. This magical occasion fosters understanding and appreciation of the cultural heritage each country offers. Through music and dance the Malaysian Consulate and the International Committee promote and build bridges of friendship. Music - the balm which soothes our soul - song and dance - goodwill ambassadors who recognize no boundaries.

Make new friends and learn more about the generosity and spirit of Malaysia, while at the same time raising necessary funds for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The event takes place on April 2nd, 2005 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. For information please call: Linda Cohenour at 805.482.3290.

Photo (above): Dec. 15th Picture from Christmas Luncheon Meeting Spouses of the Los Angeles Consular Corps Chefs de Poste Front Row: Pakistan: Mrs. Amnat Jadmani, Liberia: Mrs. Andrew Ippolito Consul General, Of South Africa: Jeanette T. Ndhlovu LA Chief of Protocol: Ms. Elga A. Sharp (from the Mayor’s Office, Malaysia: Mrs. Noor Hasima Back Row: President: Mrs. George C. Pappas, Benefit Chair: Mrs. Cynthia Catalino, France: Mrs. Philippe Larrieu, Thailand: Mrs. Isinthorn Sornvai, The Netherlands: Mrs. David van Iterson, People’s Republic of China: Mrs. Zhong Jianhua, United Kingdom of Great Britain: Mrs. Peter Hunt, Ball Chair: Mrs. Claude Bobin

Photo (right): Dec. 15th Picture from Christmas Luncheon Meeting Spouses of the Los Angeles Consular Corps Chefs de Poste Front Row: Pakistan: Mrs. Amnat Jadmani, Liberia: Mrs. Andrew Ippolito Consul General, Of South Africa: Jeanette T. Ndhlovu LA Chief of Protocol: Ms. Elga A. Sharp (from the Mayor’s Office, Malaysia: Mrs. Noor Hasima Back Row: President: Mrs. George C. Pappas, Benefit Chair: Mrs. Cynthia Catalino, France: Mrs. Philippe Larrieu, Thailand: Mrs. Isinthorn Sornvai, The Netherlands: Mrs. David van Iterson, People’s Republic of China: Mrs. Zhong Jianhua, United Kingdom of Great Britain: Mrs. Peter Hunt, Ball Chair: Mrs. Claude Bobin

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, p.29

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, May/June 2005, p.32

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, May/June 2005, p.33

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Issue 6 / 2005, p.28

Dear Consul General Hunkeler,
and Mrs. Katharina Hunkeler,

by now you have probably settled into your new position as Consul General in Munich and we wish you much success. With both of you at the helm at the Swiss Consulate, Munich is in for a real treat.

We in Los Angeles are still in the afterglow of your many accomplishments. What would we have done without your quiet grace and stunning elegance. We are still talking about the many evenings and afternoons we were allowed to spend at your beautiful home, you always greeted us with that special degree of kindness and hospitality. By doing so, you made each and everyone of us feel so very welcome. You introduced us to the beauty of Switzerland through it’s traditional music, breathtaking travel destinations and treated us to Swiss Food and Wine which we were able to enjoy in beautiful surroundings in the company of visiting Diplomats, Dignitaries and Businessmen.

Each day we spent with you was more delightful then the next and we were always thanking you -which means you were always doing something nice and wonderful. Not only did you promote Switzerland in such outstanding ways, but you also supported many efforts in the Los Angeles Community and your assigned districts. Your expert assistance and tireless efforts insured the success of the fundraisers for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and as a my guest I was delighted to share with you the joy of Los Angeles Opera Performances at the Music Center, as well as the advancement of young pianist, young musicians in general and of course young Opera Singers at the many soirees at our home in Beverly Hills and at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza.

You tirelessly graced many events and art exhibits in the greater Los Angeles Area and lend your delightful and much appreciated support. Switzerland could not have sent us better representatives then yourselves. We simply adore you and hope there will be many occasions for you to return to Los Angeles. Our homes and our hearts are always open to you. Your presence added to all of our lives, our spirit, our happiness and to our knowledge, especially about Switzerland. As a Los Angeles Community we simply wanted to express one more time how much you are adored and missed by all of us.

Our best wishes and heartiest congratulations go with you as we wish you a wonderful time at your new post in Munich. Our only consolation for loosing you to Munich is that now a new community will benefit from the gift of your charm and grace.

-Helma Christiane Bloomberg

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Issue 5 / 2005, p.32

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
Celebrity Society, April-May 2005, p.9

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Issue 4 / 2005, p.32

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Spring 2005, p.34

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Nov/Dec 2004, p.28

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Summer 2004, p.24

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Dec 2003/Jan 2004

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Dec 2003/Jan 2004

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, Aug/Sept 2003, p.23

There are not many high-profile cultural events supporting artistic, humanitarian, educational, sports, political or medical charitable causes in which Helma Christiane Bloomberg and her husband Dr. Stephen Bloomberg have not been involved. At many of those events, they meet members of the International Consular Corps and highprofile citizens. This has lead to Mrs. Bloomberg's initiative to form the "Cultural Ambassador's Club", a panel of friends which will meet to discuss cultural and political issues,welcome visiting friends and artists in Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Rome, Japan, Santiago de Chile, Switzerland and Munich to get in touch with friends of the Ambassador's Club and civic leaders of the visited regions. Thanks to Mrs. Bloomberg's intensive experience and involvement with charitable organizations, it allows her to cross-connect and to galvanize understanding between cultures at home and abroad. Her greatest joy is the reciprocal nurturing of friendship on a national and international level, to be a symbol of peace and aid in the promotion of personal and professional success for the benefit of all. One of the best examples of how she understands her role and those of the members of the Cultural Ambassador's Club was the assistance she gave opera star Richard Bernstein when he was asked to come to Munich and made his opera debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper two years ago. She found the perfect place for him to live, within walking distance to the Opera House, during his stay, gave a dinner party in his honor in Munich and personally introduced him to many of her friends. Another example is her involvement as a "Benefactor" with the organization of "Young Artist International" which she introduces to us on this page.

Mrs. Helma Christiane Bloomberg will be contributing to our magazine on a regular basis and we are looking forward to the choice of topics and venues she will present.

Author: Petra Schuermann, Editor
GW Magazine, June/July 2003, p.21

Through the courtesy of California Club Member Marc I. Stern, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Los Angeles Opera invited Board Members, Patrons and Friends of the Los Angeles Opera Company to the California Club for a panel discusssion about the artistic vision and direction of the company. Present were Mr. Placido Domingo who will take on the new job as General Director of the company. With this title come all the responsibility of both the artistic and business sides of the Los Angeles Opera Company. Mr. Domingo, as Mr. Nagano stated: "A most persuasive man" How fortunate for Los Angeles!. For the first time in it's nearly 20 year history Los Angeles Opera has appointed a Music Director. Mr. Kent Nagano, an absolute champion of the classics and a champion of new composers. With Bavarian Mr. Edgar Baitzel moving up to the position of Director of Administration and Elizabeth Kennedy as Administrative Director, Mr. Domingo's "Dream Team," a team with dynamic energy and vision has been signed up for several years to come. Our "Pioneers of the Future," along with the additional support of our outstanding Board of Directors, has put our Opera company on it's way to become the "Heartbeat" of Los Angeles.

The Wagner Society of Southern California celebrated Richard Wagner's 190th Birthday on the last Sunday in May at the home of Dr. Sherwin Sloan, it's Founder and Chairman. Members were invited to participate by singing, playing a musical instrument, presenting a reading or playing a favorite excerpt on tape. One of the exceptional treats of the afternoon was the performance by a young German Soprano from Kiel, Katja Rothfuss, who sang "Und ob die Wolke" from "Der Freischuetz" by Carl Maria von Weber und "Traeume" by Richard Wagner. Her gorgeous tone and honeyed voice communicated beauty, romance and deep feeling. Katja studies at USC toward her Masters in Vocal Performance under the tutelage of renowned Vocal Coach Cynthia Munzer. Katja was accompanied by Los Angeles Opera's Chorus Master and Head of Music Staff Mr. William Vendice. Maestro Vendice has conducted extensively in Europe and in Los Angeles he conducted such performances as "Norma," "La Boheme" and Haensel and Gretel." The joy of sharing Opera is always a special privilege. Musical performances by our members Jerry Faris and by "Opera Cat" Ellen Pollon, were enjoyed by all. If you would like to join this entertaining group and participate in some of their tours to Salzburg and Bayreuth, contact Dr. Sherwin Sloan at (1)323.467.4725.

May also found us celebrating the Eighth Annual Tardeada at the beautiful home of Mr. Gilbert and Margarita Moret in San Marino. All proceeds benefited Los Angeles Opera. Mr. Moret a wonderful entertainer and consummate host made sure his international guest enjoyed the afternoon and evening to the fullest. Guests were entertained by Los Angeles Opera Singers Jessica Rivera, Soprano, In Joon Jang, Baritone and Accompanist John Ballarino.In attendance were his Excellency the Consul General of Spain, Jose Luis Dicenta and his lovely German born wife Ulrike Dicenta as well as Berlin-Sister City's Rosemarie Reisch, Maria Elena Richardson, Orlando Ortega and Maria Antonia.

Another Highlight of this summer will be the Young Artists International Laureates Music Festival which will take place from July 31s to August 10 at different venues in Los Angeles showcasing works by major composers including Arnold Schoenberg, Mozart and Strauss. This festival is known to be attended by the most promising young talents of our time. First prize winner of the German young musicians competition in 1993 and 1994, Caroline von Bismark, violinist and founder of the Baccus String Quartet, Switzerland was a guest of the Young Artist International Laureates Music Festival last year. This year the Music Festival will kick off the summer with a benefit concert "Planet Love", held at UCLA's Royce Hall on July 31st at 8:00 PM

Classica Romana, a unique Hungarian ensemble that is part of the visiting Laureates, will perform traditions of folk Gypsy improvisations along with classical repertoire at the beautiful Historic Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills on August 2nd at 4:00 PM. A cocktail reception preceding the concert will be followed by a light supper on the terrace overlooking the city, following the concert. To receive an invitation to this special event please call (1) 323.281.3303.

In this 6th year of presenting the festival, Music Director and Conductor of YAI, Maestro Eduard Schmieder, and his wife Laura continue their commitment to bringing the future generation of musicians together and by offering a great variety of programs and events. Young Artists International is a concept of great importance to the music world. Prominent members of the German-speaking community like Eric Braeden, Ernest Hermann, Rosemarie Reisch, Dr. Hans and Dr. Sabrina Weber, Liliana Popov Alexander and Robert Korda have supported the Organization as "Partners" It is our own pleasure to serve on their Advisory Board and as "Benefactors" my husband and I have hosted young musicians in our home, as well as hosted some of YAI's events at our residence. For Festival Information please call (1) 310.281.3303 or visit their website at www.YoungArtists.org

Warmest greeting
Helma Christiane Bloomberg

Photo: Hostess H.C. Bloomberg (2nd from left) with violinist Daniel Austrich, Consul General of Germany Dr. H.-J. Wendler (left) and Director of the Goethe Institut Ute Kirchhelle (right)

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine

The beautiful home of Eric and Dale Braeden was again the setting for an evening to promote discussion and understanding of the ties which connect us in our past, our present and in our future. As President of the German-American Cultural Society, Mr. Eric Braeden, along with its members, hosted visiting dignitaries from the International Forum for Culture and Economics. Guests we re surrounded by the beautiful ambience of our host's home, while sharing an evening of delicious cuisine and precious, intimate conversations with friends both old and new.

The main goal of the Forum is to foster dialogue and promote an active network comprised of creative artists, business people and politicians. The Forum's center is the Villa Tiberius in Dresden. One of the Forum's focus is the support of young artists with an outstanding potential. This work is made possible due to a dense network of countless support groups and individuals all over the world. The starting point of support are three major competitions which are planned by this orga - nization: The International Singing Competition of the Italian opera Competizione dell'Opera, the International Piano Competition Anton G. Rubinstein and the International Composing Competition. Information regarding the German American- Cultural Society may be obtained by writing to: P.O. Box 7894 Northridge, CA 91327-7894

In Los Angeles, and as part of the cultural exchange and festivities, Dr.Cornelius Schnauber, producer of "Days of Dresden 2003," presented an evening at the Alfred Newman Recital Hall on the USC Campus featuring Soprano Latonia Moore, First Prize winner of the international Competizione dell'Opera, Semperoper (State Opera Dresden), 2002 - Tenor Bruce Sledge of Los Angeles Opera and New York City Opera and Bass Baritone In Joon Jang, Finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Final Audition, 2003.

Among high-ranking partners present from the economic, political and cultural sector were Hans-Joachim Frey, Artistic Administrator Saxon State Opera Dresden Semperoper, Christiane Mueller - Kugelberg, Villa Tiberius, Prof. Dr. Kajo Schommer, Staatsminister, retired and Mr. Dirk Hilbert, Deputy Mayor of Dresden. Everyone's efforts succeeded brilliantly to bring culture and economics together and to assist in creating a better future for all of us. Both Societies encourage the membership of all individuals who share these common goals.

For additional information on the International Forum of Culture and Economics visit: www.foruminternational. org.



Manzanar will express emotions shared by our common humanity, thereby creating an experience with meaning and significance to persons of all backgrounds, ages and ethnicities.

What: A commissioned performance piece based on the Japanese American experience, with attention to the internment camps of World War II, to remember and reflect upon the historical processes, the human emotions, the personal sacrifices, the setbacks and the advances in the progression of American freedom - a work continually in progress and never complete.

Format: Concertante with orchestra on stage, narration and visual components. Commissioned score and text. Minimal acting or choreography may be woven into the narration for dramatic effect. Visual images will be projected on a screen behind the orchestra.

Who: Kent Nagano, Artistic Director Naomi Sekiya, Jean-Pascal Beintus and David Benoit, composers Philip Kan Gotanda, writer Watermill Institute, Robert Wilson, artistic director - imagery

Music: The new score represents the work of three composers: The award winning young composer Naomi Sekiya will compose music covering the period of early Japanese immigration to the U.S. until the outbreak of World War II. Ms. Sekiya, herself an immigrant to the U.S. from Japan, has been selected by Meet the Composers' Music Alive program for a residency with the Berkeley Symphony for the 2003-2004 season, during which time she will complete this work. Composer Jean-Pascal Beintus, with whom Maestro Nagano has worked on several recent commissions, will compose music covering the time of the Japanese internment during World War II until the present. American jazz artist David Benoit will contribute jazz and big band elements that form an integral part of the Japanese experience.

Media: Public television, CD, DVD

Premier: 2004/05 season

Performance Goals: Berkeley - Zellerbach Hall; Sacramento - Mondavi Center; Los Angeles - Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; New York - Avery Fisher Hall, Washington D.C. - Kennedy Center

I consider this initiative to be art answering its highest calling and I am asking you to join me in underwriting this project. Major funding will present a superb opportunity for a title sponsor to showcase its product while at the sa m e time supporting an undertaking of the highest artistic and social merit. Further information: Helma Christiane Bloomberg, HCB90210@aol.com

Warmest greeting,
Helma Christiane Bloomberg

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine, August/September 2003

As a most important supporter of the Los Angeles Opera Company from its inception and in various significant positions, Placido Domingo's brilliance and personal friendships have drawn to Los Angeles Opera a galaxy of stars, among them German-born Edgar Baitzel.

Edgar Baitzel and Placido Domingo have enjoyed a longtime professional relationship prior to Placido Domingo hiring Placido Baitzel in autumn of 1998 in order to signal and secure long range planning of international opera business. In April of 2000 Edgar Baitzel joined the staff of the Los Angeles Opera Company as Artistic Administrator. Edgar Baitzel represents Placido Domingo's right hand in Los Angeles and serves as Domingo's partner in realizing his vision.

Born in Koblenz Germany, Edgar Baitzel studied musicology, literature and art history at the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe University in Frankfurt. He began his stage work while still a student, working as an assistant stage director under Jean-Pierre Ponnelle in Munich, Goetz Friedrich at Covent Garden, London and Munich with August Everding. Following his studies at the University, he joined the Bavarian State Opera where as Head Dramaturg he oversaw the landmark 1983 and 1985 productions of the complete works of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, respectively, the latter for the 1985 Munich Opera Festival. At the Karlsruhe Opera, Edgar Baitzel held the post of both Assistant General Manager and Artistic Administrator with responsibility for all aspects of planning, casting, budgeting and production. For five years, he was Artistic Director at the Bonn Opera. In November of 2001, he became Director of Artistic Operations at Los Angeles Opera, and in May 2003 he was named Artistic Director.

The masterminds behind the success of the LA Opera: star tenor Placido Domingo (left) and Edgar Baitzel.
From the beginning Edgar Baitzel and Placido Domingo have envisioned exceptional growth for the Los Angeles Opera Company and they have not disappointed their audience. Among their many successes was the programming of "The Queen of Spades," Los Angeles Opera's first Russian-language opera. This production represented the start of a new era for Los Angeles Opera and the onset of a new programming. The same year the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchestra, Berlin was invited to perform on stage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The orchestra was conducted by California-born star conductor Kent Nagano, who is hailed for the extraordinary depth of understanding he brings to a wide repertoire that extends from the standard classics to avant-garde compositions. Kent Nagano recently accepted Domingo's invitation to become Music Director of Los Angeles Opera. As a Superstar Trio, the Domingo/ Nagano/Baitzel Team are the key players in the meteoric artistic development of Los Angeles Opera. Nagano will conduct the company's season opening with the production of "La Damnation de Faust" starring Samuel Ramey and Denyce Graves. The production is graciously underwritten by Mr. and Mrs. Milan Panic.

Under the Baitzel/Domingo stewardship the opera has remained solidly in favor of risk taking moves and the reaction of the subscribers has been very favorable. There is a buzz of excitement in the air about the World Premiere this September 14th of "Nicholas and Alexandra" by female composer Deborah Drattell. In conversation, Edgar Baitzel stated that he very much likes the accessibility of this music. The composer's work is described as colorful and richly orchestrated. This piece was commissioned by Maestro Domingo as one of a number of Operas to be premiered by Los Angeles Opera. Edgar Baitzel said that with this, the company is fulfilling Domingo's promise to present one world premiere per season. Placido Domingo's performance as the dark monk Rasputin marks his 120th role and his performance is awaited with great intensity by his many admirers.

The primary mission of any opera company is to bring new productions to the stage and the Los Angeles Opera has not only commissioned wonderful new pieces, but as Edgar Baitzel said, has helped bring relevant works to the stage in a variety of ways.

At last weeks Gala Committee party, Los Angeles Opera Board Chairman Mark I. Stern stated that the Los Angeles Opera is the 5th largest company in terms of budget and that the company is increasing their productions while other companies are cutting back. Bravo! This reflects that the leadership of the Los Angeles Opera Company is larger than life; it is indeed impressive and bold.

Not only has there been courageous programming on stage, but there has also arrived a newly commissioned bundle of joy at the Baitzel home. Everyone's best congratulations go to Edgar Baitzel and his wife Christina on the recent birth of their daughter Sophia Angelina. May her star shine ever so brightly as well.

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine Oct/Nov 2003, p.20

Photo: The masterminds behind the success of the Los Angeles Opera: star tenor Placido Domingo (left) and Edgar Baitzel

Plaza Suites 2002 (left to right): Cynthia Jansen, Shana Blake Hill, Bruce Sledge, Helma Christiane Bloomberg, James Creswell, Mayor Meralee Goldman
While fostering a secure and nurturing environment for all its citizens, Beverly Hills also epitomizes a luxurious lifestyle with elegant amenities and scenic splendor which attracts visitors worldwide. Essential elements of a prosperous community are the services it provides to its citizens free of charge such as the Concert Series at the Beverly Hills Summer Arts Festival, the Plaza Sweets Concert Series, which is held yearly in June, July and August.

Plaza Suites 2003 (left to right): Anne Christie Peterson, LAO Board Members Steve Kim + Dr. Leslie Pam, Soprano Joohee Choi, Robin Kim
As Board Member of Los Angeles Opera and as a 30 year resident of the City of Beverly Hills, I was instrumental in bringing together the marriage of two great entities, the Los Angeles Opera and the City of Beverly Hills. City Manager Mark Scott and the incredible leadership of the City Council approve the projects and at last year's premiere, then Mayor, Mera Lee Goldman, attended the performance and pre-performance party at our home, which included Consul General Jose Luis Dicenta of Spain with his wife Ulrike, Consul General of Germany Dr. Hans Juergen Wendler, Consul General of Switzerland Franz Hunkeler, Consul General of France Jean-Luc Sibiude, Consul General of England Peter Hunt and his wife Anne as well as Noriko Kohno, wife of Consul General of Japan. Last year's sponsor delighte d in the attendance of 800 + residents who were enthralled by the mesmerizing performances of Los Angeles OperaÕs Resident Artists Shana Blake Hill (Soprano), Cynthia Jansen (Mezzo Soprano), Bruce Sledge (Tenor) and James Creswell (Bass).

This year's success continued with thrilling performances by Joohee Choi (Soprano) , Jinyoung Jang (Bass) Robert McNeil (Tenor) and Cynthia Jansen (Mezzo Soprano) in a repeat performance, singing opera's greatest hits and highlights from the 20 03/2004 sea son, including Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" and Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro." The audience experienced exhilarating thrills of international talent who will soon grace opera stages all over the world. Many audience goers are looking forward to seeing these young stars on stage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as Los Angeles Opera starts its new season September 10th with La damnation de Faust, starring Samuel Ramey and Denyce Graves. This Opera is generously underwritten by Los Angeles Opera Board Members Mr. and Mrs. Milan Panic. For tickets call 213.972.8001 or visit the Website at www.losangelesopera.com

Baritone In Joon Jang performed at the Plaza Sweets with the Verdi Chorus, as did Soprano Shana Blake Hill. This was Shana's second performance at the Plaza Sweets. Both entertainers were outstanding and received rousing applause. The Plaza Sweets concerts are brought to the citizens of Beverly Hills through the outstanding efforts of its Recreation and Parks Department, who is also in charge of Greystone Park Mansion.

August 2nd, the Greystone Park Mansion played host to Classica Romano, a Hungarian Group of Laureates invited to Beverly Hills by Young Artists International, who also invited I Palpiti soloists Sayako Kusaka (Violinist) Marianna Racz (Violinist and Flautist), Gabor Gsabo (Violinist and Violist), Evgeni Sakakuschev (Violoncellist), Edna Yuan-Yuan Chia (Pianist) and Lucy Chuang (Clarinet). Classica Romano awe inspired the audience with their irrepressible virtuosity and musical achievement. This unique ensemble brings traditions of folk Gypsy improvisations along with classical repertoire. Gyula Vadaszi (Violinist), Gabor Szabo (Violinist and Violist), Janosz Bodo ( Violinist and Violist), Mike Lukacz (Cimbalon) and Peter Stoll (violincello, bass, yeyboard) are all laureates of international competitions. I was delighted to chair this fundraising event and thereby continue my work to assist in showcasing exceptional young artists and to bring joy through music. The August 3rd and 10th performances at the Bing Theater by the impressive I Palpiti Soloists were broadcast live by KMZT-FM. I Palpiti Soloists also performed brilliantly at the Beverly Hills Municipal Gallery. While participating in the International Laureates Festival, the Beverly Hills Public Library lend its facility free of charge and offers these exceptional young musicians a home to participate in Master Classes with Martin Califour, Principa l Concert Master of the Los Angeles Philharmonics and Maestro Eduard Schmieder of YAI.

The Second Annual Beverly Hills Flower and Garden Show will take place this Nov. 8th and 9th at the Historic Greystone Mansion. This event, which was initiated last year by then Mayor MeraLee Goldman, is a huge success. This weekend-long festival provides a rare opportunity for the public to view the historic grounds and mansion of one of the City's most cherished properties. This Garden Show features test gardens by much heralded Southern California and internationally-renowned landscape Architects, gardening demonst rations & lectures, entertainment and much more. For ticket information please call 310.285.2537 or visit www.beverlyhillsgardenfestival.com

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine Oct/Nov 2003, p.21-22

What passion cannot music raise and quell?

The International Committee of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association was first formed in November 1951 by a small group of civic minded women with its fo cus being to support the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Knowing that music is the universal language, they also saw this organization as a way to reach out to the international community in the Los Angeles area to foster goodwill and understanding. Thus the wives of the Consul Generals were invited to become special members. The main event of the organization was primarily the sponsorship of an annual "International Night" in which the Consular Corps of Los Angeles were the honorary guests. The first "International Night" has evolved through the years into an annual benefit and ball, with one country honored each year. This year the Benefit/Ball will take place April 16th, 2004, at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, with China selected as the country being honored. The gala is completely selfsupporting and net funds raised are used to support the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. For more information please contact the President, Astrid Rottman at 310.277.3564, the Ball Chair, Mrs. William Lo, at 310.275.2347. The Benefit Chair is Lisa Vingsbo. You may also contact me at HCB90210@aol.com

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine Oct/Nov 2003, p.22

Photo: Astrid Rottman (4th from left), International Committee President and her family at the "Notte Italiana" Benefit Ball - Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel

On Sunday afternoon, November 2nd, 2003 a group of Southern California's finest and noted pianists and composers will gather to give a concert honoring pianist William Kapell who was tragically killed in a plane crash at the age of 31. William Kapell was considered by many to be the finest pianist America has produced. The William Kapell Piano Foundation for Contemporary Music and Musicians was founded by world renowned pianist Mr. Michael Sellersin 1978. The Foundation is dedicated to strengthening the bonds between composer and performers through commissioning significant new works for the piano and facilitating their performances and recordings of these works.

In keeping with this aim, the concert will feature the world premiers of three new works especially written for the occasion by Mario Feninger, Jeffrey Moore and Dustin Callahan. It also includes works by Andrew Norman and Susan Wang which were commissioned by the Foundation in 2001 and 2002.

Pianists who will take part in the program are: Dustin Callahan, Mario Feninger, Charles Fierro, Jeffrey Moore, Andrew Norman, Michael Sellers and Susan Wang. Mr. Fierro will perform the "Piano Variations" by Aaron Copeland, who was one of the founding members of the William Kapell Piano Foundation along with Leonard Bernstein.

The pro g ram will include seve ral pieces Liszt wrote late in his life, which foreshadow 20th Century music and revivals of exciting compositions by Dane Rudhyar, Ferruccio Busoni and Teresa De Rogatis.

As Board member, I invite you to what promises to be an exceptional afternoon of music. For more information please feel free to contact me at HCB90210@aol.com or 310.858.1559.

Concert: November 2nd 2003 at 3:00PM Colburn School of the Performing Arts Zipper Concert Hall 200 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles. General admission $30.00 Students $15.00.

Author: Helma Christiane Bloomberg
GW Magazine Oct/Nov 2003, p.22

:: Articles - Speeches - Event Pictures - Testimonials ::
© Copyright 2023 International Society of Cultural Ambassadors, Web Department. All rights reserved.